The new tongue

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1982 Jan-Feb;90(1):58-68. doi: 10.1177/019459988209000111.


Rehabilitation of major resections of the tongue has always posed a serious problem. This paper presents the feasibility and rational of rehabilitating partial glossectomies by the use of the pectoralis major myocutaneous flap and the fabrication of a "new tongue" by the use of this flap. The criteria for these techniques in benign and malignant tumors of the tongue are outlined. The segmental innervation of the pectoralis major muscle from a variety of three to five nerve branches permits the development of a skin-muscle flap that may be transposed with its nerve supply intact or totally denervated, depending upon the status of the hypoglossal nerves and tongue in the operative field. This presents the possibility of transposing a skin-muscle flap into a glossal wound with a completely intact nerve supply where the new flap is under constant instruction in its new physiologic environment. It also presents the possibility of neurotization of the denervated section of the muscle flap by axones from the intact segment of tongue. A third possibility is the fabrication of a "new tongue" by the transfer of the hypoglossal nerves into the denervated segment of the peripheral aspect of the myocutaneous flap. This variety and combination of rehabilitative techniques introduces a new phase into the rehabilitation of the tongue.

MeSH terms

  • Glossectomy / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Methods
  • Surgical Flaps*
  • Tongue / anatomy & histology
  • Tongue Neoplasms / surgery*